Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Plant biologist earns string of retractions, bringing total to 9

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A pair of plant biologists has lost a string of papers over concerns about image manipulation. One author has added eight new retractions to his CV; the other has added five.

Last summer, a journal retracted another paper by the pair, also citing suspicions of image manipulation. The latest batch of retractions — issued by seven different journals — includes some papers that have been questioned on PubPeer.

Dibyendu Talukdar, listed at the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India, is the sole author on three retracted papers. He shares five new retractions with Tulika Talukdar listed at the University of North Bengal. That brings their totals to nine and six, respectively. (We’re not sure if the Drs. Talukdar are related).

We’ll start with the papers they share:
Superoxide-Dismutase Deficient Mutants in Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.): Genetic Control, Differential Expressions of Isozymes, and Sensitivity to Arsenic” was published in BioMed Research International. A PubPeer user raised concerns in June about the figures in the paper. The retraction notice (published on the same site as the paper) says:

The article was found to contain images with signs of duplication and manipulation in Figures 1, 3, 4, 5(A), 5(B), 6, 8(b), 9(C), 9(G), 9(I), and 9(J).

The 2013 paper has been cited six times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

A figure from that paper was in turn duplicated in “Leaf Rolling and Stem Fasciation in Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) Mutant Are Mediated through Glutathione-Dependent Cellular and Metabolic Changes and Associated with a Metabolic Diversion through Cysteine during Phenotypic Reversal,” also published in BioMed Research International. Here’s what PubPeer had to say about it. And here’s the notice:

The article was found to contain images with signs of duplication and manipulation in Figures 1(a), 1(b), 1(d), 2(b), 3(a), 3(b), 3(c), 3(d), 3(k), 4(d), 4(g), 4(m), 4(p), 8, 10(c), 10(d), 10(e), 10(f), 10(g), 10(h), 10(i), 10(j), 10(k), 10(l), and 10(o) and duplication from Talukdar D. An induced glutathione-deficient mutant in grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): Modifications in plant morphology, alteration in antioxidant activities and increased sensitivity to cadmium. Biorem. Biodiv Bioavail. 2012; 6: 75–86 in Figure 2B and from Dibyendu Talukdar and Tulika Talukdar, “Superoxide-Dismutase Deficient Mutants in Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.): Genetic Control, Differential Expressions of Isozymes, and Sensitivity to Arsenic,” BioMed Research International, vol. 2013, Article ID 782450, 11 pages, 2013, doi: 10.1155/2013/782450 in Figure 10.

The 2014 paper has been cited twice.

There are similarities between figures in that 2014 paper and one published in 2016 by Caryologia, which was also questioned on PubPeer last June, then pulled in January. The retraction notice for the Caryologia paper explains:

At the request of the author, the following article has been retracted from publication in the Taylor & Francis journal Caryologia:

Dibyendu Talukdar & Tulika Talukdar, Karyotype analysis and identification of extra chromosomes in primary aneuploid stocks of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) by fluorescence chromosome banding, Caryologia 69(3): 235–248, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00087114.2016.1169091. Version of Record published online 14 April 2016.

Since the above paper was published online, we have been made aware of signs of image manipulation in Figure 1A, Figure 1D, Figure 1E, Figure 1K, Figure 2A and Figure 2E. Similarities between these figures have been found with the following earlier published articles by the same author:

Dibyendu Talukdar, Increasing nuclear ploidy enhances the capability of antioxidant defense and reduces chromotoxicity in Lathyrus sativus roots under cadmium stress, Turkish Journal of Botany, 38: 696–712, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3906/bot-1310-9.

Dibyendu Talukdar & Tulika Talukdar, Leaf Rolling and Stem Fasciation in Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) Mutant Are Mediated through Glutathione-Dependent Cellular and Metabolic Changes and Associated with a Metabolic Diversion through Cysteine during Phenotypic Reversal, BioMed Research International,2014, Article ID 479180, 21 pages, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/479180

Dibyendu Talukdar, Fluorescent-banded karyotype analysis and identification of chromosomes in three improved Indian varieties of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.), Chromosome Science, 13: 3–10, 2010,https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236333396

This action constitutes a breach of warranties made by the author with respect to originality. We note that we received, peer-reviewed, accepted, and published the article in good faith based on these warranties, and censure this action.

The retracted article will remain online to maintain the scholarly record, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as retracted.

Moving on to the rest of the pack: “Inventory of invasive alien plants in Bethuadahari wildlife sanctuary in Nadia district, West Bengal, India” was published in 2016 by Tropical Plant Research. The PDF of the paper is marked as retracted, but the editor of the journal confirmed that they did not publish a retraction notice, which is the journal’s policy. The journal is not indexed.

Coordinated response of sulfate transport, cysteine biosynthesis, and glutathione-mediated antioxidant defense in lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) genotypes exposed to arsenic” was published in 2014 by Protoplasma. Here’s the retraction notice:

This paper is withdrawn by the Editor in Chief due to data manipulation. Several lanes and bands of the majority of the gel figures shown in this publication where manipulated by duplicating single lanes or bands. The corresponding author agrees to the retraction.

The 2014 paper has been cited eight times journal is not indexed.

And here are the papers on which Dibyendu Talukdar is the only author:

Flavonoid-Deficient Mutants in Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): Genetic Control, Linkage Relationships, and Mapping with Aconitase and S-Nitrosoglutathione Reductase Isozyme Loc” was published in (and retracted by) The Scientific World Journal. The notice says:

The article was found to contain images with signs of duplication and manipulation in Figures 2 and 3.

The 2012 article has been cited five times.

Growth Responses and Leaf Antioxidant Metabolism of Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) Genotypes under Salinity Stress” was published in International Scholarly Research Notices. Here are some comments from a PubPeer user, and here’s the retraction notice:

The article was found to contain images with signs of duplication and manipulation in Figures 5(a), 5(b), 6(a), and 6(b), and duplication from Talukdar D. Plant Growth and Leaf Antioxidant Metabolism of Four Elite Grass Pea (Lathyrus sativus) Genotypes, Differing in Arsenic Tolerance. Agric Res (2013) 2: 330. doi:10.1007/s40003-013-0085-3 in Figure 6.

The journal is not indexed.

Finally, here’s the notice for a paper published in Environmental and Experimental Biology:

The journal retracts the following article: Talukdar D. (2014) A common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) mutant with constitutively low cysteine desulfhydrase activity exhibits growth inhibition but uniquely shows tolerance to arsenate stress. Environ. Exp. Biol. 12: 73–81.

Based on information discovered after publication and [reported] to EEB in May 2016, the article in question was examined. It is concluded that images in the article contain signs of duplication and manipulation. The retraction was approved by the Editor-in-Chief. The author did not respond to the inquiries.

The original 2014 paper appears to have been taken down entirely. The paper is available here.

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